Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts

For the second year in a row, my roomie and I made our way up to Salem to take in Halloween festivities.

There is perhaps no other locale in the world whose economy depends so heavily on Halloween.

Even in the afternoon it was absolutely packed. But this is what happens when Halloween falls on a Saturday. The weather was also unusually warm. It was nearly 70 degrees although it was very windy.

The one big downside is that bathrooms were very hard to find and when they were found they didn't exactly have all the amenities. I'll go no further than that.

Christopher and I did not go in costume and did not do so last year. Of course, there are those at the Cantab who think I'm scary just as I am. But we're thinking of going in costume next year. I suggested that we buy a couple of Snuggies and dress up as monks or start our own little cult.

I haven't dressed up in years. When I lived in Ottawa during the 1990s, I usually threw on my mask of then Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Of course, that wouldn't work so well down here.

Come to think of it I didn't see any Barack Obama masks. Then again such a thing could be construed as an act of racism. I did, however, see this bumper sticker. I'm sure the Witches for Obama would consider the owner of that automobile to be some kind of pagan.

Last year, I saw a number of women dress up as Sarah Palin. I didn't see any of that this year although I'm sure they crossed paths with other revelers.

Déjà Vu All Over Again for A-Rod

To quote Yogi Berra, it was déjà vu all over again for Alex Rodriguez.

In the fourth inning of Game 3 of the World Series, A-Rod hit a Cole Hamels pitch down the right field line for what appeared to be a double. But upon closer inspection, the ball hit a camera that overhung the outfield fence. Yankees manager Joe Girardi asked the umpires to use instant replay. They agreed marking the first time instant replay has been used in the World Series. The umps ruled it was a home run. At the time the Phillies had a 3-0 lead. A-Rod's home run made it 3-2. In all, the Yankees scored six unanswered runs and ended up winning 8-5 to take a two games to one lead in the Fall Classic.

Of course, instant replay was introduced late last season. It was used for the very first time on September 3, 2008. Guess which player was involved? I think you know where I'm going here. A-Rod hit a home run at Tropicana Field over the left field catwalk which is in foul territory. Rays manager Joe Maddon brought this to the attention of the umpires and they looked at the replay. However, the umps upheld the home run. I still think they got that call wrong.

Tonight's situation wasn't a question of boundary but rather a question of judgment. It was in the opinion of the umpires that the ball would have gone into the seats in the absence of the camera. Yet it could have just as easily hit the top of the fence and been a double. I don't think it was clear cut.

But some guys have all the luck.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Obama Double Speak: 640,239 Jobs Created or Saved

The Obama Administration today declared that exactly 640,239 jobs had been created or saved as a result of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (a.k.a. The Stimulus Bill.)

So if the White House can tell us precisely how many jobs were created or saved then why can't they tell us precisely how many jobs were created and precisely how many jobs were saved?

Because they are weasel words. The unemployment rate has climbed more than 2% since Obama took office. So there aren't exactly many new jobs being created. The October job numbers come out a week from today. I would not be surprised if the unemployment rate hits double digits. Why else talk about jobs being saved? But how can the federal government state with any certainty that an employer would have terminated an employee if not for the stimulus money?

It's the kind of thing you would expect from someone who says he will bring about health care for every American without adding a dime to the deficit.

Will Miliband Be The EU's Foreign Affairs Minister?

The headlines in Europe are all about French President Nicolas Sarkozy pulling the rug out from under former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in becoming the first President of the European Union.

But I think the more relevant news is the possibility of British Foreign Secretary David Miliband becoming the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs.

I think such an appointment would be ghastly.

His acquiescence of Hezbollah and that of his Her Majesty's Government is absolutely appalling as I detail here and here.

For his part, Miliband says he's not interested in the job. Pardon me if I don't take a word of a politician saying he doesn't want higher office at face value.

Think about it for a moment. The Labour Party is going to be decimated in the next general election. Would Miliband rather be the leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition or would he rather be the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs?

Methinks Mr. Miliband will soon be taking up residence in Brussels.

Zelaya to Return to Power in Honduras

In an otherwise unproductive trip to Pakistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a resolution to the political standoff in Honduras. The Obama Administration has bullied the Micheletti government in Honduras to allow Manuel Zelaya to return to power. Elections are to proceed as scheduled on November 29th. It will be interesting to see if Zelaya honors his word.

Let us not forget the Obama Administration put the full weight of their support behind a man who publicly declared that Israeli mercenaries were poisoning him with mind altering gas and radiation.

If the Honduran Congress must return him Zelaya to power let us hope they have the wherewithal to do so on November 28th.

Ray Walser of the Heritage Foundation sums it up quite nicely:

The Obama team did an excellent job of undermining the Honduran economy by cutting off economic assistance, throttling tourism with travel warnings, yanking visas away from Hondurans, and creating a climate of massive uncertainty that spooked U.S. investors and businesses. The U.S. embassy in Honduras did yeomen’s work watching out for the interests of the Zelaya clan, leaving many to wonder which side it was pulling for. In short, against a small, friendly, anti-Chávez ally, the administration mustered the sort of muscle it would never dare use against Iran, Russia, or Venezuela.

In other words, Obama and Hillary did it because they could.

Crowley & Gates Share Another Pint in Cambridge

Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley and Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. were seen having another pint together on Wednesday night at a pub called River Gods.

They were just a few blocks away from me. I was at the Cantab, my usual Wednesday night haunt, reading my poetry. President Obama and Vice-President Biden were nowhere to be found.

I've been to River Gods a couple of times. It's a good place to have a conversation. I once read my poems there many, many years ago.

I just hope Gates still isn't planning to make that documentary on racial profiling.

Because the one good thing that came out of the Beer Summit was that Sgt. Crowley is truly a gentleman.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Comparing Amelia to Obama

Patrick Mulligan, one of our regular readers, offers this comment on my review of Amelia:

Personally, I'd rather see a film about somebody who actually accomplished what they set out to do instead of died trying. The entire concept for such a movie seems like a monumental shrine to failure. In the age of Obama, the release is certainly well-timed. Maybe they'll give the film an Academy Award for all the potential that it had.

Where do I begin?

If Patrick would rather not see a film about somebody who died trying then I suppose The Ten Commandments isn't amongst his DVD collection.

Patrick labels Amelia a failure for not completing the around the world flight. He dismisses her as a figure unworthy of our attention describing the biopic as "a monumental shrine to failure." Let's keep in mind that no one had attempted to circumnavigate the globe - man or woman. Prior to leaving Lae, New Guinea, Amelia and Fred Noonan had traveled 22,000 miles. They had traversed three fourths of the globe and were on the last leg of their flight to Honolulu. Earhart and Noonan needed only to stop at Howland Island to refuel. Something went horribly wrong. They disappeared and haven't been found to this day.

Let us also remember that Amelia crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans on solo flights not to mention that she piloted transcontinental solo flights. She also set various speed and altitude records. Amelia was also amongst the first people who believed commercial airflight could be viable and put her money where her mouth was by investing her money in what would eventually become Northeastern Airlines. Amelia was no failure by any measure. She lived an extraordinary life especially in the time in which she lived it.

Except for the final scene, the movie utterly fails to capture her story - both triumphs and disasters - in any meaningful way.

While I would advise Patrick to skip the movie I would recommend he read Susan Butler's East of the Dawn and Mary S. Lovell's The Sounds of Wings. If he took up my advice, I suspect Patrick wouldn't be so quick to liken Amelia to President Obama.

Taylor Mitchell, 1990-2009. R.I.P.

This is absolutely awful.

Taylor Mitchell, an up and coming country/folk singer-songwriter from Toronto, was attacked yesterday by two coyotes while hiking in Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia and died of her injuries today. She was only 19.

Mitchell was on tour in the Maritimes promoting her debut album For Your Consideration which she released this past spring.

Coyote attacks on humans are rare and when they do attack it is usually against small children.

But fatalities are nearly unheard of.

Here's a 2005 article from National Geographic on the subject of aggressive behavior in coyotes.

The two keys here are a) don't feed the coyotes and b) take steps to ensure that coyotes have a healthy fear of humans. If we stay away from them and they stay away from us all will be well. Unfortunately, that is of little consolation to Taylor Mitchell's family.

The rare yet random nature of this attack but makes her fate all the more cruel.

So Now Does McCain Think Obama is Dithering?

If a week in politics is a lifetime then 72 hours is a generation.

On Sunday, when Senator John McCain appeared on Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer, he told Schieffer he would not characterize President Obama's strategy in Afghanistan as "dithering" as former Vice-President Dick Cheney did last week. To be precise, McCain said, "I wouldn't use that language." He went on to say, "the more united we can be behind him, I think the more the chances are of success and American public support."

Today, Senator McCain is singing a duet with Cheney. Interviewed on The Early Show (what is McCain's affinity for CBS I wonder), McCain said, "It's time to act." He added:

We watch this situation continue to deteriorate while this long protracted process of decision-making goes on. We're not operating in a vacuum. The president of the United States needs to make this decision and soon.

O.K., McCain didn't come out and say Obama was dithering in Afghanistan. But for all intents and purposes McCain said Obama was dithering in Afghanistan.

World Series Prediction - Yankees vs. Phillies

The 2009 World Series begins tonight at the new Yankee Stadium between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Yankees will start C.C. Sabathia while the Phillies counter with Cliff Lee. It is worth noting that both men were teammates with the Cleveland Indians and won back to back AL Cy Young Awards with the Tribe in 2007 and 2008. So it appears we'll have a great pitching match up. Then again the score could end up 15-14.

The Phillies haven't played in a week while the Yankees last played on Sunday. This long layoff hurt the 2006 Detroit Tigers and the 2007 Colorado Rockies. Then again the Phillies are the defending World Series champions and it would be a mistake to underestimate them. The Phillies are attempting to become the first NL team to win back to back World Series since the Cincinnati Reds. The Big Red Machine won the Fall Classic in 1975 and 1976.

A couple of years ago, there was a commercial from Southwest Airlines that aired in the Boston-New Hampshire market trying to lure New Englanders to Philadelphia. Look for the guy who says Philadelphia is "like a baby New York." Southwest Airlines should re-air the commercial. If that doesn't light a fire under Phillies fans then nothing will.

Phillies in five.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Astros Name Mills New Skipper

Brad Mills, who has spent the past six seasons as the Boston Red Sox bench coach and Terry Francona's right hand man, will now run his own ship.

The Houston Astros named Mills as their new manager today although Mills wasn't their first choice. The Astros intially offered the job to Manny Acta but he turned them down in favor of managing the Cleveland Indians.

Mills beat out former Astros manager Phil Garner (who guided them to their only NL championship in 2005) and Dave Clark, who took over as the Astros interim manager after Cecil Cooper was fired on September 21st.

I remember Mills when he was an up and coming prospect in the Montreal Expos organization in the early 1980's alongside Francona. Like Francona, Mills was injury prone and his playing career was over by 1983. Like Francona, Mills became a minor league manager. He managed teams in the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies organizations.

Mills returned to the major leagues in 1997 as a first base coach with the Philadelphia Phillies. The team was managed by - you guessed it - Terry Francona. Both Francona and Mills were let go in 2000. Mills served under Frank Robinson as the bench coach for the Montreal Expos in 2003 before reuniting with Francona the following year in Boston. In six seasons, Mills has gone to the post-season five times and has collected two World Series rings.

How all of this will be of help to the Astros remains to be seen. Winning depends in large part on the talent you have. Francona has a lot of talented players here in Boston. That wasn't the case when he was managing the Phillies. Needless to say, the Phillies have come a long way from the days with Tito at the helm. The Astros have the likes of Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence and Jose Valverde on their roster. Their pitching is a bit thin but that can be said of a lot of teams. It will be interesting to see what off season moves the Astros make. If nothing else he's being given the chance to prove himself.

Obama = Caesar?, Part II

Upon further thought maybe we are being too rough on NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman.

After all, he merely compared President Obama to Julius Caesar.

Evan Thomas, the assistant managing editor of Newsweek, last June likened Obama to God.

Perhaps Landesman wasn't being reverent enough.

Obama = Caesar?

So Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts, likens President Obama to Julius Caesar.

I'm gathering Landesman doesn't mean that Obama can make a good salad.

Although I have read where Obama makes the best tuna salad since Teddy Roosevelt.

Thoughts on Steve Phillips

Steve Phillips was fired by ESPN on Sunday night after the fallout of his extramarital affair with ESPN production assistant Brooke Hundley. She was terminated by ESPN yesterday.

I am not going to dwell at length about this story other than to say that I feel sorry for Phillips' soon to be ex-wife Marni and their children.

But I hope this means that next season Sunday Night Baseball will revert to the two man crew of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan.

Three's a crowd and in more ways than one.

Monday, October 26, 2009

More Dithering

President Obama said today he's in no rush to send more troops to Afghanistan.

Of course, Obama was all for listening to the generals when he didn't have to back up anything he said.

Speaking about Iraq, Obama remarked in March 2008:

There were generals at the beginning of the conflict that said this is going to require many more troops, will cost us much more ... those generals were pushed aside.

Kind of like how President Obama has pushed General McChrystal aside.

Mr. President, General McChrystal has spoken. Either comply with his request or abandon the mission. Our troops lives depend on it. Afghani lives depend on it.

Dick Cheney is right. Quit dithering.

McGwire Named Cardinals Hitting Coach

Mark McGwire, who has largely been absent from MLB since his retirement following the 2001 season, has been hired as the St. Louis Cardinals hitting coach for the 2010 season. McGwire replaces Hal McRae who was dismissed following the NLDS in which the Cardinals were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He joins his old manager Tony La Russa (in both Oakland & St. Louis) who returns to manage the Cards for a 15th season.

Already there are calls for McGwire to come clean about his alleged use of PEDs.

Of course, McGwire testified in front of Congress in March 2005 and declined to answer questions about PEDs. At the time he stated:

Asking me or any other player to answer questions about who took steroids in front of television cameras will not solve the problem. If a player answers 'No,' he simply will not be believed; if he answers 'Yes,' he risks public scorn and endless government investigations.... My lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family, and myself. I will say, however, that it remains a fact in this country that a man, any man, should be regarded as innocent unless proven guilty.

If McGwire has, in fact, not taken PEDs and protests his innocence he will not be believed.

On the other hand, if McGwire did take PEDs then he should come clean. Case in point: Andy Pettitte.

Last night, Pettitte was the winning pitcher in clinching a berth for the New York Yankees in the World Series. I doubt anyone remembers Pettitte's admission in February 2008 that he used HGH.

If McGwire does admit to wrongdoing he'll get some jazz for not being forthcoming but will ultimately be forgiven. He won't have lied like Pete Rose who denied betting on baseball for nearly 15 years before he said otherwise.

But McGwire is a reticient person by nature. I suspect that he is not likely to open up about this and will once again become the target of the sports media and will become a distraction for the Cardinals. If that is the case then I predict he will resign his post a few days into spring training. I hope it doesn't comes to that but it would not surprise me in the least if it did.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Turkish PM Calls Iran's Nuclear Program "Gossip"

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed Iran's desire to build a nuclear weapon as "gossip."

Erdogan went on to say, "So although Iran doesn't have a weapon, those who say Iran shouldn't have them are those countries which do."

Of course, Erdogan neglected to mention Iran's threats to wipe Israel off the map. Perhaps because he's too busy accusing Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of wanting to use nuclear weapons in Gaza.

But what do you expect of someone who considers Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "a friend"? Ahamdinejad recently praised Erdogan from excluding Israel from a NATO military exercise. Israeli-Turkish relations are at their lowest ebb in decades. Erdogan will travel to Iran next month to visit with Ahmadinejad.

Yankees Clip Angels Wings

The New York Yankees are going to the World Series. Sigh.

The Yankees beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 5-2 in Game 6 of the ALCS.

C.C. Sabathia was named the ALCS MVP. He won Games 1 & 4 for the Yankees. In 16 innings pitched he surrendered only two runs on nine hits and struck out a dozen batters. Sabathia will start Game 1 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium against the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night.

It is the first time the Yankees have been in the Fall Classic since 2003 when they fell to the Florida Marlins in six games. The Yankees last won the World Series in 2000 when they beat the cross town New York Mets in five games.

There is one key advantage the Yankees have over the Phillies. The Yankees will have two days rest while the Phillies won't have played for a week. The long layoff hurt the Detroit Tigers in 2006 and the Colorado Rockies in 2007. But every year is different.

Here's another observation. The Yankees have a propensity to win World Series when Democrats are in the White House. The last time the Yankees won a World Series during a Republican administration was when Eisenhower was in the Oval Office. This was in 1958 when the Yankees beat the Milwaukee Braves in seven games. The Yankees have won eight World Series since then all during Democratic administrations - 1961, 1962 (JFK) 1977, 1978 (Carter) and 1996, 1998-2000 (Clinton). The Yankees could hardly buy their way into the World Series under Nixon, Ford, Reagan and both Bushes. The only other time the Yankees and Phillies faced off in the World Series was in 1950 when the Yankees swept the Whiz Kids and Harry Truman was in the White House. The presence of President Obama favors the Yankees although he did root for the Phillies in the 2008 World Series.

As for the Angels they literally threw away the ALCS. They committed three errors in Game 1 not to mention the brain cramp between Chone Figgins and Erick Aybar. Macier Izturis' throwing error in the 13th inning gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the ALCS.

The Angels also committed back to back errors tonight in the 8th inning on bunt attempts. Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick dropped the ball at first base on a throw from Kendry Morales allowing Nick Swisher to reach. Angels reliever Scott Kazmir then lobbed the ball over Morales head on a bunt attempt by Melky Cabrera. Instead of being down 3-2 they would be down 5-2.

In all, the Angels committed 8 errors in the ALCS. The only two games they didn't commit errors were Game 3 & 5 which they won. The Yankees were the better team despite some good performances from back up catcher Jeff Mathis, Vladimir Guerrero and John Lackey in Game 5. It is worth noting that Guerrero and Lackey are free agents and might not return to the Angels in 2010. Ditto for Chone Figgins and Bobby Abreu. The Angels might have a very different look next season.

As for the Yankees, this is their 40th World Series appearance. Yankees skipper Joe Girardi said his team was going to win one for George Steinbrenner, the former Yankees owner whose health has declined in recent years. He hasn't always been a popular figure but his success and legacy are undeniable. Here he is at the height of his powers with his arch rival the late Billy Martin.

A Second Acta in Cleveland

The Cleveland Indians announced today that Manny Acta will be their new manager and have signed him to a three year contract with a club option for 2013.

I am surprised they made this announcement now. Usually these things wait until after the World Series. But the Indians acted on Acta because apparently Acta was being pursued by the Houston Astros, where Acta spent his minor league playing and managerial career.

The Tribe also interviewed former Rangers and Mets manager Bobby Valentine, who has been managing in Japan for a number of years as well as Torey Lovullo, who currently manages the Columbus Clippers - the Indians' Triple A affiliate. I remember Lovullo when he was a top prospect with the Detroit Tigers twenty plus years ago. The Indians were apparently supposed to interview Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly but were eager to sign Acta on.

After being a third base coach for the Montreal Expos and the New York Mets, Acta was named the manager of the Washington Nationals prior to the 2007 season. In 2½ seasons at the helm of the Nationals, Acta's record was 158-252. Acta was fired by the Nationals at the All Star Break with the worst record in MLB at 26-61.

The Tribe is in the midst of rebuilding having dispensed with most of their star players. Will the likes of Grady Sizemore and Jhonny Peralta be shipped off? Acta will guide a young Indians team through the growing pains of a 100 loss season in 2010. The question is can he turn them into winners by 2012. Valentine has a proven record of turning losers into winners while Lovullo already has an established relationship with many of the young Indians players who have come through the ranks. Whatever their enthusiasm for Acta the jury is very much out on him.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Lou Jacobi, 1913-2009. R.I.P.

Actor Lou Jacobi has died. He was 95.

He was one of those character actors whose face one instantly recognized even if you didn't know his name.

Born in Toronto, Jacobi began as a stage actor making his debut on Broadway playing Mr. Van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank. He would reprise this role in the movie with Shelley Winters playing Mrs. Van Daan. Jacobi would make appearances on various TV shows as The Dick Van Dyke Show, Barney Miller, The Courtship of Eddie's Father and Sanford & Son. Speaking of Red Foxx, Jacobi and Foxx had a scene together in Ossie Davis' Cotton Comes to Harlem (which I happened to watch on TV tonight.)

Jacobi also appeared in movies such as Avalon, I.Q. and Amazon Women on the Moon. But the role he might be best remembered for was in Woody Allen's Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask) in which he played a cross dressing middle aged husband. It might not be to everyone's taste but at least he didn't have any scenes with a sheep.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Tortured Psyche of Brian Fuentes

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia isn't doing his closer Brian Fuentes any favors.

Fuentes, of course, gave up a game tying home run to Alex Rodriguez in the 11th inning of Game 2 of the ALCS. The Yankees went on to win that game in the 13th on a throwing error by Angels second baseman Macier Izturis.

But it was Fuentes who became the goat of the game with many wondering why he hadn't intentionally walked A-Rod or at least pitched around him.

Fuentes has twice faced A-Rod since then - once in Game 3 and once in Game 5. The Angels won both of those games and I suspect if Fuentes faces A-Rod tomorrow night in Game 6 he will do the same. But when he walked A-Rod yesterday it burned him. You could see it in his face. He would later vent his frustrations and I don't blame him.

In Game 3, Fuentes intentionally walked A-Rod to begin the inning. In Game 5, Fuentes intentionally walked A-Rod after easily retiring both Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon. After he issued the intentional pass to A-Rod, Fuentes proceeded to walk Hideki Matsui and then plunked Robinson Cano to load the bases. So instead of pitching to A-Rod with two outs and nobody on, Fuentes has the bases loaded with Nick Swisher up. Fortunately, he got Swisher to pop out to Erick Aybar to end the game. So the Angels got the win and live to fight at least one more night. But at what expense?

Think about it. Fuentes led the American League in saves. But because he gave up a home run to A-Rod he can never pitch to him again? What happens if Mark Teixeira goes deep off Fuentes? Will he be prohibited from pitching to him too? By telling Fuentes to intentionally walk A-Rod, Scioscia is telling his pitcher, "You can't get this guy out." That's the worst thing you can do to a pitcher. It's demoralizing. Now it's one thing to give A-Rod a pass if first base is open or if it can set up a double play. But if Scioscia doesn't believe Fuentes can get A-Rod out then he shouldn't be out there period. It's the kind of thing that can ruin a career, if not a life. The Angels should be acutely sensitive about that given the tragedy that befell Donnie Moore after he gave up the home run to Dave Henderson in Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS with the Angels one strike away from going to the World Series.

Now I'm not suggesting Fuentes is going to do anything rash. But I think what Scioscia is doing could cause long term damage to Fuentes' confidence if it hasn't done so already. I just have a bad feeling that if Fuentes has to intentionally walk A-Rod again in the ALCS that the Angels won't be so lucky next time.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Soupy Sales, 1926-2009. R.I.P.

Comedian Soupy Sales, best known for his children's TV show in the 1950s and 1960s, has died. He was 83.

I'm not intimately familiar with his schtick apart from the fact that he singlehandedly kept both pie crust and shaving cream manufacturers in business.

And for one other thing. I remember Sales making a guest appearance on one of Dick Clark's blooper shows in the 1980s and recounting a story where he told children to sneak into their mother's purses and father's wallets to send him those little green pieces of papers with the pictures of guys in beards on them to him. In return he would send them a postcard from Puerto Rico. Sales raised $80,000 from this little stunt. I suppose that was going viral in the television age. It would, however, result in his suspension from WNEW-TV in New York - a move denounced by seven years olds in all five boroughs.

Here's his account of what happened on New Years Day, 1965.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Phillies Beat Dodgers in Five....Again

The Philadelphia Phillies are going to the World Series for the second year in a row.

And for a second year in a row, the Phillies eliminated the Dodgers in the NLCS in five games.

I'm sure the pressure is building on Dodgers manager Joe Torre next year which is the final year of his contract in Los Angeles.

I did not watch tonight's clinching game which the Phillies won by the score of 10-4. I was otherwise occupied.

Jayson Werth hit two home runs. Shane Victorino and Pedro Feliz also went deep. Although Ryan Howard did not drive in a run tonight he was awarded the NLCS MVP. Howard went 5 for 15 with 2 home runs and 8 RBI and five runs scored.

The Phillies bullpen was very good in Game 1 holding off the Dodgers 8-6 but not so good in Game 2 when they blew Pedro Martinez' 1-0 lead. An error by Phillies second baseman Chase Utley didn't help matters.

But the Phillies rebounded with an 11-0 blowout in Game 3 and 8 strong innings by Cliff Lee.

The Phillies came back from behind to win Game 4 by a 6-5 score on a two run double by Jimmy Rollins off Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton in the bottom of the 9th.

Tonight, the bullpen was good as it was in Game 1 when Cole Hamels didn't go deep into the game. Last year's NLCS MVP and World Series MVP has not been sharp all season including this post-season. I wonder if Phillies manager Charley Manuel will start Hamels in Game 1 of the World Series.

The World Series commences a week from today. The Phillies could find out who their opponent is as early as tomorrow evening. The New York Yankees have a three games to one lead in the ALCS and could clinch with a victory in Anaheim. The Phillies are better off with the Yankees winning tomorrow. Both teams will have nearly the same amount of rest. But if it goes to a Game 7 on Sunday then the AL team will have an advantage. Although they would have less rest they would still be in better game shape.

Regardless of who they face, the Phillies have a chance to become the first NL team to win back to back World Series since the Cincinnati Reds (a.ka. The Big Red Machine) did so in 1975 and 1976.

My New Poetry Chapbook Inspired by Amelia Earhart

Tonight, I launched my first poetry chapbook in more than six years at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge.

The chapbook is titled Woman in the Sky: Poems Inspired by Amelia Earhart and The Journey of Flight.

Of course, the biopic Amelia starring Hilary Swank and Richard Gere comes out on Friday. But the collection has nothing to do with the movie. I began writing these poems early in 2008 after listening to a CD by an obscure British folk group called Plainsong whose sole album in 1972 was titled In Search of Amelia Earhart.

If you are interested in getting a copy please get in touch with me and I'll be happy to arrange something with you. I am asking only $3.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wilders Criticizes Obama

Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders got a rough ride when he spoke at Temple University in Philadelphia this evening. After being loudly jeered during the Q & A session, his security detail escorted him away from the premises.

But the thing I found most interesting was his criticism of President Obama. Wilders characterized Obama's gestures to the Muslim world as "the beginning of the end."

The reason I find this interesting is because when Wilders visited the Boston area last February I had the opportunity to speak with him after his talk and asked him what he thought about Obama. He refused point blank to criticize Obama. Wilders told me that he was a guest in our country and that our politics were up to us. At the time we spoke, Obama had been in office for just over a month.

Well, Wilders has obviously changed his tune in the intervening eight months. I wonder what Obama did specifically to raise Wilders' ire sufficiently that he is now prepared to criticize Obama on American soil. Obama's proclamation last April in Turkey that we are not at war with Islam? The Cairo Speech last June? The "elections" in Iran?

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Wilders was finally allowed into Britain last week after having been denied entry there last February by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith because he "would threaten community harmony and therefore public security." Wilders appealed to Britain's Asylum & Immigration Tribunal and got the decision overturned. There is but a flicker of sunlight in what's left of the British Empire.

Of course, the Labour government doesn't like it one bit. The Home Office stated " his presence could have inflamed tensions between our communities and have led to inter-faith violence. We still maintain this view.” Of course, this is the same government that re-established ties with Hezbollah's political wing less than a month after banning Wilders from their soil. Even the Obama Administraton was annoyed with that development. So apparently criticizing violence committed in the name of Islam will inflame tensions in Britain but calling for Israel to wiped off the map raises not a ripple in Finsbury Park.

Answering a Couple of Questions About Limbaugh-McNabb

One of our regular readers at IC had a couple of questions for me concerning my article on Rush Limbaugh and Donovan McNabb.

I had asked if Rush favored a colorblind society why bring McNabb's race into the conversation.

Our reader asks:

"Are you suggesting that to be "color blind" one cannot mention race in any context? Even when commenting on a perceived hypocrisy?"

Me: I don't see what McNabb's race has to do with any aspect of his on the field performance. As for the hypocrisy I will again ask what sportswriters, television pundits or bloggers fawned on McNabb over his race. If Limbaugh gives names then perhaps I could take his claims about McNabb more seriously. If not then he is making a claim that he cannot back up.

He also asks:

You go on to write: "It's not surprising because Rush's claim is predicated on the premise there has never been a successful African-American quarterback in the NFL." Where, exactly, has Rush stated such a premise?

Me: When Rush states, "The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well," I am left with the impression that no black quarterback has ever done well in the NFL. How can the media be desirous that a black quarterback succeed when there have already been successful black quarterbacks?

It would be like calling Howie Kendricks of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim overrated and then say, "The media has been very desirous that a black second baseman succeed," all the while ignoring Jackie Robinson and Joe Morgan.

It is exactly why I would have like to have seen Rush be given an opportunity to defend his comments and address any concerns any individual owners, players or any other NFL/NFLPA officials might have.

So Why Isn't Mao Politically Toxic?

With regard to the Anita Dunn/Mao controversy, Philip Klein of The American Spectator writes:

It's unfortunate that Mao, a man who is responsible for the deaths of 70 million people, isn't as politically toxic. Part of this is a legacy of the romanticized portrait of Mao conveyed by Edgar Snow, Mao's propagandist to the West, in the 1937 book Red Star Over China, as well as subsequent liberal apologetics for him in the decades that followed, and general ignorance. American elementary and high schools teach European and Cold War history, but don't tend to emphasize Chinese history, meaning that people who want to learn more about the world's most populous nation generally have to seek out that knowledge on their own.

I can also think of another reason Mao isn't politically toxic. Let's not forget that Richard Nixon travelled to China in February 1972 and met with both Mao and Zhou Enlai resulting in the Shanghai Comminqué which led to formal diplomatic relations seven years later. Let us also not forget the Joint Comminqué on Arms Sales to Taiwan issued in August 1982. This, of course, took place during the Reagan Administration. Needless to say, Ronald Reagan never referred to China as an evil empire.

The point here is that if Mao had the political toxicity that Hitler has to this very day there would be no Presidential visits, no normalization of relations and no agreements to leave Taiwan spinning in the wind.

Oprah to Interview Palin...At Last

Oprah Winfrey will interview Sarah Palin on her show on November 16th.

The interview will air the day before Palin's book Going Rogue: An American Life is due to be released.

Oprah, of course, was a prominent supporter of Barack Obama during last year's presidential election. You may recall that she refused to interview Palin after she had been selected by John McCain to be her running mate.

Never mind Charlie Gibson or Katie Couric. This interview will most likely make or break any ambitions she might have in 2012.

Do I expect Oprah to treat Palin fairly? That's a 50-50 proposition. I say this because if Oprah wants to go for the jugular and Palin isn't prepared she will be revered by the liberal media in the same way as Obama. But, on the other hand, if Oprah comes off as too heavy handed and Palin comes off as fair, reasonable and well spoken then look for Glenn Beck to come charging in to remind everyone she's an Obama apologist.

The rest of the liberal media will, of course, pillory Palin. In which case those who love her will still love her and those who hate will still hate her. But what about the people who are still on the fence? If Palin manages to win over a good number of those people then the 2012 campaign is on the march. If the Obama Administration is scared of the Fox News Channel then they will be terrified by Sarah Palin.

The one thing I am most certain of is that this episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show will garner its highest ratings in the history of the show.

The Best Anti-Obama Column Ever

Now there have been a lot of good critiques of President Obama.

But Steve Huntley, the token conservative at The Chicago Sun-Times, might have written the best column critiquing President Obama since his election nearly a year ago. I know that's saying a lot with all the good stuff Charles Krauthammer has written. But I really like Huntley's concluding passage:

The White House trying to dictate who's a news organization. Democrats out to gut a business group. Obama media allies damning Americans as racist, unpatriotic and treasonous. Is this the America Obama promised when he campaigned to end the cynical and divisive politics of the past?

The only thing I might have added to Huntley's column was how Obama has proclaimed "an era of responsibility" and how he has spent his first year in office holding everyone else but himself responsible when things go wrong.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Naïveté of Richard Goldstone

Last month, Richard Goldstone released a UN report on his "fact finding" mission concerning Israel's defensive operations in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009. In the report, officially titled The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, Goldstone condemned both the IDF and Hamas for deliberately targetting civilians. Knowing the UN's inherent anti-Israel bias, Israel refused to co-operate with Goldstone and for good reason.

Last Friday, the report was formally adopted by the UN Human Rights Council. However, its resolution makes no mention of any wrongdoing by Hamas.

So now Goldstone is distancing himself from the report in an op-ed piece in today's edition of The Jerusalem Post. Well, sort of:

Israel missed a golden opportunity to actually have a fair hearing from a UN-sponsored inquiry. Of course, I was aware of and have frequently spoken out against the unfair and exceptional treatment of Israel by the UN and especially by the Human Rights Council.

I did so again last week. Israel could have seized the opportunity provided by the even-handed mandate of our mission and used it as a precedent for a new direction by the United Nations in the Middle East. Instead, we were shut out.

How can Goldstone be so naïve as to suggest Israel was going to have a fair hearing? The UN Human Rights Council's raison d'être is to condemn Israel.

As Ron Prosor, Israel's Ambassador to the United Kingdom, recently remarked in an editorial in The Times:

It is impossible to escape the obsession of the Human Rights Council (and I chuckle every time I write its name) with Israel. In three years, it has issued 25 resolutions against individual states: 20 of them targeted Israel. Basic maths suggests that Israel, a tiny democracy permanently threatened by dictatorships and terrorists, is guilty of 80 per cent of the world’s human rights offences. This is ridiculous, as is a human rights body with member states that still view public beheadings as a wholesome leisure activity.

Then again if he honestly believed Israel would get a fair hearing it makes sense that Goldstone was surprised to have been given the job in the first place. When Goldstone was appointed back in January he remarked that he was "shocked, as a Jew" to have been asked to lead the inquiry. He shouldn't be shocked at all. Appointing a Jew is exactly the sort of thing an anti-Israel outfit would do. Because when the findings come out against Israel, they can say, "Hey, the inquiry was headed by a Jew and even he condemns Israel. Therefore the report is legitimate and not anti-Semitic." Goldstone is being used as a pawn to serve their anti-Israel political agenda. But Goldstone is too naïve to see through this smokescreen.

Of course, Goldstone's report is far more consquential than its anti-Israel bias. Former Ambassador to the UN John Bolton characteristically pulls no punches in his op-ed in
The Wall Street Journal:

The Goldstone Report has important implications for America. In the U.N., Israel frequently serves as a surrogate target in lieu of the U.S., particularly concerning the use of military force pre-emptively or in self-defense. Accordingly, U.N. decisions on ostensibly Israel-specific issues can lay a predicate for subsequent action against, or efforts to constrain, the U.S. Mr. Goldstone's recommendation to convoke the International Criminal Court is like putting a loaded pistol to Israel's head—or, in the future, to America's.

But in Richard Goldstone's world of evenhandedness, democratic Israel and totalitarian Gaza are one in the same. This attitude is both naïve and dangerous.

Obama's Double Standard on Elections in Afghanistan & Iran

So it now appears the Obama Administration won't consider granting General McChrystal's request for more troops until the smoke clears in last August's disputed election in Afghanistan.

Yet the Obama Administration exercised no such caution when it came to Iran's elections this past June. Despite the massive protests which resulted in swift punishment for those who dared to raise an objection, the Obama Administration recognized Ahmadinejad's "re-election" and is engaging them unabated.

So what the Obama Administration is saying is that we will engage a government that is a sworn enemy of the United States but that we won't engage a government that is ostensibly our ally.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Patriots 59 Titans 0

I turned on the game late in the 3rd quarter and did a triple take.

First, Gillette Stadium was covered in snow. There were snow flurries here in Boston this afternoon but they melted on contact. Not in Foxborough.

Second, the Pats were wearing their old uniforms. I half expected Steve Grogan to be taking snaps. The Titans were bearing the colors of their predecessors, the Houston Oilers. They sure could have used the likes of Warren Moon and Earl Campbell today. Even the referees got in on the act wearing the old AFL orange referee uniforms.

Third, the Pats had a 52-0 lead.

They ended up winning the game 59-0. It was the most lopsided game in the NFL since December 4, 1976 when the Los Angeles Rams shut out the Atlanta Falcons by that same 59-0 score.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady completed 29 of 34 passes covering 380 yards and had six touchdown passes. By the time I tuned into the game Patriots head coach Bill Belichik had turned over the QB reigns to rookie Brian Hoyer. In all, the Patriots compiled 619 total yards.

The Titans conversely had five turnovers and a passing yardage of -7. Now 0-6 in 2009, the Titans must be thanking their lucky stars that they have a bye week coming up.

The Patriots, meanwhile, travel to England where they will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at London's Wembley Stadium next Sunday. The Patriots are heavy favorites as the Bucs are also 0-6 this season.

The Balloon Has Burst

It's a hoax.

Just as I had suspected.

Still, I'd rather have a hoax than a dead child.

Thoughts on Suicide Bombing Against Iranian Revolutionary Guard

Boy, has President Obama's policy of engagement with Iran really paid dividends.

Iran blames America (as well as Britain) for today's attacks against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Obama's charms are hardly a deterrent for the Mullahs to condemn The Great Satan.

It's worked for them for 30 years. So why stop now just because Obama wants to talk?

Friday, October 16, 2009

ALCS Prediction - Angels vs. Yankees

The 2009 American League Championship Series is set to begin tonight (weather permitting) at Yankee Stadium with the New York Yankees hosting the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The Yankees and Angels are no strangers to each other in post-season play. They faced in the ALDS in 2002 and 2005 with the Angels prevailing on both occasions. In fact, the Angels are the only team in the AL that has had a winning record against the Yankees since 1996.

Methinks things won't be different this time around either.

Yes, the Yankees have an unbelievable lineup where seven players have hit 20 or more homeruns this season. Derek Jeter, one of the two players in the lineup not to have 20 homeruns in 2009, is a strong candidate for the AL MVP.

C.C. Sabathia is a bonafide ace. Andy Pettitte is still very good after all these years and so is Mariano Rivera. The presence of both Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain as set up men for Rivera makes them that much more dangerous.

Yet the Angels managed to win despite not having either Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero in the lineup for nearly two months. The Angels know how to get on base and more importantly they know how to score. Guys like Chone Figgins and Erick Aybar are every bit as dangerous in a playoff game as A-Rod and Teixeira. Speaking of Teixeira, the Angels didn't lose a beat with Kendry Morales. The presence of former Yankee Bobby Abreu in the Angels lineup should give the Yankees pause as well.

The Angels starting rotation is deeper than the Yankees - John Lackey, Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver and Scott Kazmir. If they have a weak link it is their closer Brian Fuentes. Although he led the AL in save with 48 he also blew seven saves. However, the lefty-righty set up combination of veteran Darren Oliver and rookie Kevin Jepsen is as good as Hughes and Chamberlain.

Mike Scioscia is as good a manager as any in MLB. He belongs in the class of LaRussa, Cox and Torre.

And I can't emphasize enough there's the spirit of Nick Adenhart. A death of a teammate would have crushed most teams. Not this one.

Angels in five.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Boy Was In The Attic Not The Balloon

Falcon Heene, the 6-year old Colorado boy who was thought to have been in alone in a hot air balloon shaped like a flying saucer that went airborne, was home all along.

Obviously, I'm glad the kid is alright. But when the balloon landed this afternoon I wondered if he had met his end or if this was a cruel hoax.

It's not clear if it's a hoax but this family seems to be out of left field. The family appeared on the ABC reality TV series Wife Swap. The father, Richard Heene, has a series of videos posted on YouTube which ask the question "fake or real?" This only adds to my skepticism.

Needless to say I have no plans to watch either Wife Swap or Mr. Heene's videos.

Thoughts on the Boy in the Balloon

There's this story out of the Denver area of a flying saucer shaped air balloon taking off with a 6-year-old boy inside of it.

The balloon landed a short time ago but there was no boy inside.

This means one of two things.

Either the boy somehow fell out of the balloon or this whole story is a cruel hoax.

Under the circumstances I rather it would be the latter than the former.

Have Israel & Turkey Reached a Breaking Point?

This is not an encouraging sign.

Israel has taken Turkey's acting envoy to task for a television series currently airing in Turkey that depicts IDF soldiers as bloodthirsty killers of infants.

This comes days after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had barred Israel from a NATO military exercise in protest of its defensive incursion into Gaza last December and January. Israel and Turkey have a long standing history of conducting both bilateral and NATO military exercises together.

You might recall Erdogan walking off stage during a panel discussion with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Davos this past January.

On the other hand word has come that Turkish soldiers have arrested dozens of al Qaeda terrorists planning attacks on Israel.

So the problem isn't with the Turkish military. The problem is Erdogan. He is moving away from Turkey's secular traditions and becoming chummy with both Syria and Iran. The Turkish military has periodically seen fit to remove leaders who stray too far from the Turkish constitution which was written in the spirit of Ataturk. Despite the Turkish military's history of restoring democracy in short order such a move would undoubtedly raise the ire of the Obama Administration so methinks it is not likely to happen.

Israeli-Turkish relations might not be at a breaking point but they have certainly been bent in the wrong direction.

NLCS Prediction - Phillies vs. Dodgers

The National League Championship Series begins tonight in Los Angeles. It is a rematch of the 2008 NLCS between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Phillies beat the Dodgers in five games last year before going on to win the World Series.

The Dodgers will start 21-year-old Clayton Kershaw while the Phillies counter with Cole Hamels, who was last year's NLCS MVP and World Series MVP.

I don't underestimate the Dodgers. They are more than Manny Ramirez. Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp are forces with whom to be reckoned. Their bullpen is devastating.

Yet I have to go with the Phillies. Their starting pitching is about even and their bullpen has been erratic compared to the Dodgers. But Brad Lidge pitched well in the NLDS and if he continues to pitch well then he neutralizes the Dodgers bullpen. Pound for pound the Phillies offense is just better - Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth.

Phillies in six.

NLCS MVP - Jayson Werth

N.B. I am hoping Werth's mother will be in attendance.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rush Rammed

St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts has dropped Rush Limbaugh from his group that is looking to buy the St. Louis Rams.

The Reverend Al Sharpton, Chris Matthews and the NFL Players Association are ecstatic.

It is a sad day for the pursuit of happiness.

I have no idea whether Rush Limbaugh would have been good for the St. Louis Rams. The Rams could have become worse, they could become the Greatest Show on Turf or somewhere in between. But we will never know the answer because Rush has been denied the opportunity to pursue happiness. I fail to see the harm in letting him compete in this bid.

The NFL is under no obligation to award him or anyone else a franchise but there is an obligation towards letting him make his case. Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said he wouldn't support Limbaugh's bid without even giving him a chance. If Irsay has a concern with Limbaugh's involvement in the organization or with his interactions with player personnel let Irsay express those concerns and let Limbaugh have a forum in which to explain himself. That Irsay has already made up his mind doesn't speak well of the bidding process.

It is also unfortunate that Checketts didn't see fit to stand by Rush when times got tough. It's bad enough that the Sharptons and Matthews of the world are getting their way on the basis of a falsehood. But the behavior of Sharpton and Matthews is reinforced when the Checketts of the world won't defend their business associates and leave them to hang out to dry. Checketts had to know there would be strong reaction to Limbaugh's presence and been prepared for the onslaught. If he had would have been in better position to defend his association with Limbaugh. An association which he entered into of his own free volition.

The bottom line here is that Rush got rammed. From both ends.

"Captain" Lou Albano, 1933-2009. R.I.P.

Captain Lou Albano, tag team wrestling manager extraordinaire in the 1970s and 1980s, died today at the age of 76.

Albano was a manager wrestling fans loved to hate. He managed such teams as The Wild Samoans, the Moondogs as well as Mr. Fuji & Mr. Saito to World Wrestling Federation tag team gold. Singles wrestlers such as Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, The Magnificent Muraco and Jimmy Snuka were also part of Albano's stable of heels at various times.

Albano is best known for helping to broaden wrestling's appeal to mainstream audiences in the mid-1980s. He did so by appearing in several of Cyndi Lauper's videos most notably "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." Lauper would later participate in an angle with Albano which involved The Fabulous Moolah losing the WWF Womens' Title to Wendi Richter after holding it for 28 years. Consequently, Albano became a fan favorite. This coincided with the rise of Hulk Hogan and Hulkamania as well as consumating the marriage between rock and wrestling.

Lauper, however, wasn't Albano's only foray into music. For a time, Albano also managed the band NRBQ. Albano ended his association with the WWF in 1986 to concentrate on movies and television appearances (although he would briefly return in 1994.)

Albano would eventually become a vegetarian and shed more than 150 pounds during the 1990s. However, his health had been in decline for several years especially after suffering a heart attack in 2005.

Here's Albano doing what he did best.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thoughts on Rush Limbaugh & Slavery

Those who accuse Rush Limbaugh of supporting slavery ought to ask themselves some questions.

If Rush Limbaugh had actually spoke in support of slavery don't you think it would have been unveiled long before submitting his bid to buy the St. Louis Rams?

If Rush Limbaugh had actually spoke in support of slavery don't you think he would have been banished off the airwaves?

If Rush Limbaugh had actually spoke in support of slavery don't you think conservatives would have distanced themselves from him as fast as they distanced themselves from former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott in 2002?

If Rush Limbaugh had actually spoke in support of slavery don't you think President Obama and the White House would have put that front and center when they focussed their sights on him earlier this year and tried to cast him as the leader of the Republican Party?

Now, I disagreed with Limbaugh when it came to his comments about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb six years ago. I disagree with them now.

But if the NBA can put up with someone like Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban who trades in 9/11 conspiracy theories then surely the NFL can put up with Rush Limbaugh.

Republicans get their own private online social networking site,

Contact: Charles A. Jensen
Phone: 602-539-5520

Republicans get their own private online social networking site,

October 13, 2009
Phoenix, Arizona, the ultimate free online social network for Republicans, Independents, and Libertarians has just launched. Republicanville aims to change the political landscape. The site is founded on the core principles of fiscal conservatism, smaller government, low taxes, stronger defense, and capitalism. Republicanville provides individuals and political leaders a social network that is strictly for their political involvement, where everyone is free to speak their mind with others who share the same political interests and voting goals. This unique virtual nation will allow everyone to connect instantly and personally with friends, elected officials, candidates, and organizations.

Co-Founder & CEO Stryker Lampe says, “Our vision is simple, we want to advance the Republican Party through technology. We want people to know we are not your grandfather’s GOP. This is not some Washington-funded idea, this is simply two guys following and protecting the American Dream.”

Branded “A social network of the people, by the people, and for the people,” this online social network will give citizens and politicians FREE networking tools to advance their political views and communicate with their constituents. Members can make new friends and express what’s on their mind using blogs, videos, pictures and social linking. Members can also start groups, post events & jobs and chat live. In the works are a number of amazing features and applications to assist in connecting individuals with their elected officials and vice versa.

One of the most interesting features of the social network is that you can handle all your tweets, followers and search twitter without ever leaving the site. Another great feature is that you can invite all your friends from Facebook, LinkedIn, email accounts and other networks all inside republicanville.

Charles A. Jensen Co-Founder, President and COO says, ”In a social media world people are running into increasing problems expressing their political views on networks like Facebook as their statements may conflict with “friends,” their content could be held against them. Networks like Facebook can shut down your account at anytime. People who join republicanville are there for one thing: political activism. We do not hide what we are about.”

About republicanville llc:

Republicanville is a private social media company based out of Scottsdale Arizona and founded by Stryker Lampe & Charles A. Jensen. They plan on reinventing politics with social media and applications. They are launching a sister site that will concentrate on voter registration.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Phillies Conqueor Rockies

The Philadelphia Phillies will be headed to the NLCS for a second straight year against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Phillies prevailed over the Colorado Rockies in Game 4 of the NLDS 5-4. They took three games out of four.

In Game 1, Phillies starter through a complete game en route to a 5-1 victory.

In Game 2, the Rockies evened the series with a 5-4 win.

Game 3 was initially scheduled to be played on Saturday but was delayed 24 hours due to a snowstorm in Denver.

With Lee throwing a complete game in Game 1 many wondered about Phillies manager Charley Manuel's confidence in closer Brad Lidge. But it was the Rockies bullpen that faltered. It was Huston Street not Lidge who gave up the go ahead run to the Phillies in the 9th inning during both Games 3 & 4. Last night, Ryan Howard drove in the go ahead run with a sacrifice fly. Tonight, the Phillies scored three runs in the 9th with two outs. Howard hit a two run double to tie the game and then Jayson Werth singled him in for the go ahead run. Meanwhile, Lidge managed to save both games. If Lidge is back in his 2008 form in which he did not blow a save that entire year then the Dodgers are in trouble. The Phillies could repeat in 2009. But, of course, they have to get past the Dodgers first. I won't dismiss them as easily this time around.

Game 1 of the NLCS begins Thursday in Los Angeles.

Top Obama Adviser on FNC: "Let's Not Pretend They're a News Network."

Appearing on the CNN show Reliable Sources hosted by Howard Kurtz, White House Interim Communications Director Anita Dunn pilloried the Fox News Channel.

Aside from stating, "Let's not pretend they're a news network," Dunn also called FNC "a wing of the Republican Party."

Dunn isn't exactly a low ranking flunkie. You might recall she was interviewed on 60 Minutes along with David Axelrod, David Plouffe and Robert Gibbs by Steve Kroft the night Obama was elected President.

So this salvo against FNC is coming up from high on the Obama food chain.

I understand why they are doing it. Liberals hate FNC. Despite claims of vegetarianism, liberals love red meat as much as conservatives. So when the Obama White House rails against FNC their people are happy.

But can FNC really be called "a wing of the Republican Party"? If the Obama White House had bothered to watch Katie Couric they would know Glenn Beck thinks John McCain "would've been worse" than Obama.

I think it would be more accurate to state to label FNC conservative rather than Republican. It reminds me of when I went to see Ann Coulter speak at Boston College shortly after Bush was re-elected in 2004. She said FNC should admit it's conservative provided all the other networks admitted they were liberal.

Of course there's about as much chance of that happening as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad buying Israel Bonds.

I think the Obama Administration is thinking in the short term. First, they continue to demonstrate that they can't take criticism of any sort. Second, they are moving away from their own playbook. When Kroft asked Plouffe how they won states like Indiana and North Carolina he said, "I think part of it is not being afraid to venture out and try win in what has been considered hostile territory." Part and parcel of that strategy was Obama going on The O'Reilly Factor. You can be sure that Obama won a lot of respect and votes by those who had supported Bush in 2000 and 2004 by going mano a mano with O'Reilly.

The fact is 2012 is coming sooner rather than later. If Obama wants to be re-elected he's going to need voters who watch the Fox News Channel. I'm sure that he'll appear on FNC in the final 60 days before the '12 election. But spending years trashing FNC and by extension its viewers will have taken their toll and Obama's last minute efforts to play nice will backfire. By then no one will be listening to him.

With that in mind, Anita Dunn and Obama Administration officials should keep doing what they are doing.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Yankees Sweep Twins

The last baseball game has been played at the Metrodome.

The Yankees beat the Twins 4-1 to sweep the ALDS and will advance to the ALCS against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The Yankees dominance of the Twins continues unabated. The Twins did not win a regular season game against the Yankees and could not muster a win in the ALDS despite leading in every game.

The Twins had a 2-0 lead early in Game 1 only to have the Yankees score seven unanswered runs.

In Game 2, the Twins had a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the 9th when Twins closer Joe Nathan gave up a two run home run to Alex Rodriguez to tie the game. The Twins did have the bases loaded and no one out in the 11th but could not score. Mark Teixeira hit a line drive home run in the bottom of the 11th to give the Yankees a 2-0 ALDS lead.

Today, Andy Pettitte and Carl Pavano were locked in a pitcher's duel. Pavano, who pitched for the Yankees between 2005 and 2008, struck out nine batters over seven innings. The Twins scored first on a single by Joe Mauer in the bottom of the 6th. Pavano, however, surrendered two solo home runs to A-Rod and Jorge Posada in the 7th to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.

The Twins had a chance to tie in the 8th but Nick Punto overran the third base bag on a ball hit by Denard Span and Derek Jeter alertly threw the ball home to Posada who in turn threw the ball to A-Rod who tagged out Punto.

The Yankees added two runs in the 9th on singles by Posada and Robinson Cano after three consecutive walks by three different Twins relievers.

Whatever momentum the Twins had in the final three weeks of the season was stopped dead in its tracks by the Yankees.

It's perhaps just as well the Twins have played their last game at the Metrodome. Maybe Target Field will yield greater success for the Twins against the Yankees and the rest of the AL. After the game, home plate was dug up so it can be moved to Target Field. Joe Nathan grabbed some dirt from the pitcher's mound as a keepsake. I remarked to my Dad that when ballparks were retired in the early 1970s the fans would rip the ballpark apart up and to including taking seats from the ballpark. But we are in a much different world now.

As for the Yankees, they will host the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday. The Angels clinched their ALDS against the Red Sox earlier today. So both teams will have five days to rest.

The Angels have defeated the Yankees in the ALDS twice (2002 and 2005) but this is the first time the two teams have squared off in the ALCS. Unlike the Twins, the Angels have consistently beaten the Yankees in a way no other team have including the Red Sox. The Yankees should have far more competition in this playoff series than they did in the ALDS nothwithstanding the Twins stellar efforts in Game 2.

Americans for Prosperity's Defending The Dream summit emphasizes social media

Laura Ingraham speaking at the summit

I attended Americans for Prosperity's third annual Defending the American Dream summit earlier this month in Washington, D.C. along with 2000 others, and was amazed at the energy there. Obama's bailouts and push for nationalized healthcare have gotten Americans riled up, with tea party protests all over the nation like we've never seen before under other presidents. Americans for Prosperity has been one of the key organizations assisting the protesters logistically, providing a way for grassroots organizers to network and organize. So it was thrilling to see many of the most active protesters over the past year come together at this summit.

Americans for Prosperity is one of a few leading organizations on the right that sees the value of bloggers and social media, and the conference heavily emphasized the role of bloggers, who had their own special press room for blogging.

Steve Schippert from Wizbang blog reported on keynote speaker Newt Gingrich's speech. Gingrich said the socialist wing of the Democrat Party is going to lead them to defeat in the next election. He writes that Newt,

Tells story of gas rationing in the 70's when you could only get gas on certain days depending on whether your license plate ended in an odd or even number. A father would have his son go out and switch the license plates on the cars to get gas when needed.

If you're a conservative and you hear of 13 year olds figuring out how to get around a program, you want to repeal the program.

If you're a liberal and you hear that story, you want to install program police at every gas station in the country.

Regarding Obama on economics, Newt said, "Yes we can. But not his way." Gingrich also quipped, "Bowing to a Saudi king is not an energy policy."

Schippert relayed that Hot Air columnist Ed Morrissey talked about ridiculous examples in the tax code like deductions for pets. Unfortunately they all came from Republicans.

Writing for, Jillian Bandes covered a speech that took place at the healthcare protest rally at the U.S. Capitol during the summit,

“[The health care bill] was supposed to go for a vote in July. Then September. Then October,” Rep. Patrick McHenry, (R-S.C.) told a rowdy crowd. “Last night, Steny Hoyer said it would be two more weeks. What they’re trying to do now is twist arms.”

Over 2000 people showed up to the healthcare protest at the U.S. Capitol, which was also covered by Jim Jess at the Examiner. He relays a speech by Shona Holmes, a Canadian whose medical care was delayed due to rationing in Canada:

She said the Canadian government was quite proud that its citizens only have to wait 100 days for a MRI, a time frame that would be unacceptable in the U.S. Holmes received treatment at the Mayo Clinic in the United States and said she would have died without the timely medical attention she received. She only had to wait a week for her MRI. Ironically, two of her doctors were Canadians who left Canada due to its socialized system and now practice in the U.S.
Jim Jess also quotes Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) saying that 53 new government agencies would be created under H.R. 3200, the Democrats' healthcare reform bill.

Karyn McDermott of the Examiner relayed what AFP President Tim Phillips told a packed audience at dinner Friday night,
When the President and his friends on the left say 'hope' they mean their hope is in the government for the solution of the challenges we face today.
Legendary blogger John Hawkins of Right Wing News (left, with legendary Twitterer Tabitha Hala aka Pink Elephant Pun) wrote up an entertaining synopsis of the summit which included lots of photos here. He said Newt Gingrich was the best speaker at the summit: "He had a combination of ideas, gravitas, and raw charisma that was difficult for anyone else to match." Hawkins himself got a lot of applause speaking on a panel when he said he interviewed and raised money for Joe Wilson.

I agree that Newt was tremendous, but was also impressed with Rep. Mike Pence from Indiana, who does a really funny imitation of George W. Bush. He is the dark horse candidate for president in 2012. Watch Mike Pence imitate George W. Bush here.

Leslie Carbone, former Director of Tax Policy at the Family Research Council and author of Slaying Leviathan: The Moral Case for Tax Reform, attended the conference and gave an interview about her book here.

Arizona's Sean Noble, Chief of Staff for Rep. John Shadegg, gave a rousing speech at the "Tribute to Ronald Reagan" dinner.

Bill Smith from ARRA News Service covered several of the speeches, including one by Steve Herman CainMoore from the Wall Street Journal. Moore said, “Since we passed the economic stimulus bill we’ve lost $3 million jobs." Smith also covered Fox News contributor and talkshow host Herman Cain, who said liberals S.I.N.: They SHIFT the subject. They IGNORE facts. They NAMECALL. Cain found out that liberals think HE is racist.

Overall, it was very inspiring to see how the Obama administration's policies have rallied so many people into action. Watch for AFP to take the lead in rallying Americans to revolt against this administration.
Some of us bloggers hanging out

Pictures from "Tribute to Ronald Reagan" dinner
Pictures from Saturday morning's general session
Videos from AFP's national town hall at the Capitol
Recap of summit from Tim Phillips
Large collection of videos from summit
My pictures

The 2nd worst person in the world, AFP's Erik Telford
, with Kerry Pickett from The Washington Times

Angels Stun Red Sox Nation

Red Sox Nation is stunned.

The Red Sox were one strike away from extending the ALDS to Game 4.

It never came.

The Sox had a 5-2 lead against the Angels heading into the 8th inning. With two out and two on, Sox manager Terry Francona opted to remove Billy Wagner in favor of closer Jonathan Papelbon to get the final four outs of the game.

Papelbon promptly gave up a single in the gap to Juan Rivera scoring two inherited runners. The Sox lead was now 5-4. But Papelbon managed to get out of the inning when he picked off pinch runner Reggie Willits at first.

The Sox added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning on a Mike Lowell double down the right field line scoring pinch runner Joey Gathright who had stolen second base moments earlier. Gathright was pinch running for David Ortiz who hit a single up the middle for his lone hit of the ALDS.

Everything appeared to be in order for Game 4. But as Yogi Berra says, "It ain't over 'til it's over."

Papelbon retired Macier Izturis on a pop out to catcher Victor Martinez and then got pinch hitter Gary Matthews, Jr. to fly out to Jacoby Ellsbury.

All that stood between the Red Sox and Game 4 was Erick Aybar. Papelbon quickly had two strikes on Aybar. But the scrappy Aybar would stroke a single up the middle.

Up came Chone Figgins. Prior to this plate appearance, Figgins was 0 for 12 in the ALDS. Papelbon quickly got two strikes on him. But Figgins managed to hang in there for a walk.

At this point, I have a very bad feeling because here comes Bobby Abreu. The ex-Yankee has the uncanny ability to take pitches, draw walks and get clutch hits. Papelbon got two strikes on him as well. But Abreu is at his best with two strikes on him. This time was no different as Abreu hit a wall ball double scoring Aybar. The Sox lead was now down to 6-5.

With first base open, Papelbon intentionally walked Torii Hunter to load the bases. Vladimir Guerrero is the anti-Abreu. Guerrero will swing at just about anything even if its at his head. True to form, Guerrero hit the first pitch up the middle for a two run single to give the Angels a 7-6 lead. Francona then removed Papelbon from the game.

Angels closer Brian Fuentes had a one-two-three inning in the bottom of the 9th.

The Angels won the 2009 ALDS sweeping the Red Sox.

Let's face it. The Angels were the better team. They were hungrier. The memory of Nick Adenhart looms large. The inspired performances by Angels starters John Lackey and Jered Weaver in Games 1 & 2 were a tribute to Adenhart's unfulfilled potential.

Today, the Angels scored three runs after being down to their last strike in three separate plate appearances. If that isn't a measure of perserverance I don't know what is.

The Red Sox have to the Angels what the Yankees have been to the Red Sox. The Angels lost the ALDS to the Red Sox in 2004, 2007 and 2008. Let's also not forget the 1986 ALCS in which the Red Sox came back from three games to one. The Angels were one strike away from going to their first World Series when Dave Henderson hit an 0-2 forkball over the left field wall off Donnie Moore.

Ironically, Dave Henderson was on hand today to throw out the first pitch before the game. Life wasn't so kind to Donnie Moore. Less than three years after the 1986 ALCS, Moore committed suicide. Somewhere beyond the sky, Nick Adenhart paid Donnie Moore a visit to give him some small measure of comfort.

It could be said the Angels are on a mission from G-d.

The Angels could find out who they will face off against in the ALCS in a few short hours. The New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins will face off in Game 3 of their ALDS. The Yankees need one more win to clinch the ALDS. Although one wonders if the hometown fans will inspire the Twins to live another day. Otherwise, it could be the last baseball game played in the Metrodome.

Game 1 of the ALCS begins on Friday.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dodgers Sweep Cardinals

On Monday, I predicted there would be a sweep in the NLDS between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

There was a sweep alright. It's just that I picked the wrong team to sweep.

The Dodgers beat the Cardinals 5-1 in Game 3 of the NLDS and will advance to the NLCS against either the Philadelphia Phillies or the Colorado Rockies.

Dodgers starter Vicente Padilla, who was claimed off waivers from the Texas Rangers in August, pitched seven shutout innings giving up only four hits and a walk.

I think this series caught nearly everyone by surprise. I don't think anyone expected Chris Carpenter to get knocked around in Game 1. I don't think anyone expected Matt Holliday to drop a ball with two outs in the bottom of the 9th in Game 2. I don't think anyone expected the Dodgers to then score two runs to win the game. And I certainly don't think anyone expected Padilla to throw seven shutout innings today.

So at the risk of underestimating the Dodgers again I don't think they'll win the NLCS. The reason I say this is because they don't play again until Thursday. The Dodgers can practice all they want but either the Phillies or Rockies will be less rusty.

As for the Phillies-Rockies, Game 3 of their NLDS was postponed due to a heavy snowfall in Denver. The game has been rescheduled for tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, both the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim could sweep their respective ALDS against the Minnesota Twins and the Boston Red Sox tomorrow.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Marge Simpson in Playboy?

It's true.

In honor of The Simpsons 20th anniversary, Marge Simpson will be Ms. October in the forthcoming issue of Playboy which is due to be released next Friday.

As far as cartoons go she's not my type.

If it were Daphne from Scooby-Doo on the other hand.....

Is Obama's Nobel a Consolation Prize for Losing The Olympics?

When I heard that President Obama had been bestowed the Nobel Peace Prize this morning the first thing I asked myself, "Is this a consolation prize for losing the Olympics?"

It also came to mind that it was just a few days ago that President Obama refused to meet with the Dalai Lama, a fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner, to get in the good graces of China.

And how must Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter feel?

Bill Clinton, after all, got Yasser Arafat to shake hands with Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres on the White House lawn. Yet no Nobel.

Sure Jimmy Carter got his Nobel. But it was 25 years after he got Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat to shake hands on the White House lawn.

Remember Gunnar Berge? He was the Norwegian Labour politician who headed the Nobel Prize committee who said, "With the position Carter has taken...(the award) can and must also be seen as criticism of the line the current U.S. administration has taken on Iraq."

A reporter then asked Berge if awarding Carter the Nobel was a "kick in the leg" at Washington, Berge said, "Yes, the answer is an unconditional 'yes."'

What has President Obama done to bring about world peace other than give a few speeches where he threw America under the bus? He's chaired a UN Security Council meeting in which he spared the feelings of Iran and North Korea and barely has the time to meet with General McChrystal about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

It's probably just as well that Obama wins the Nobel. If not Obama, they would have instead given it to some Chinese dissident rotting away in some prison in Liaoning Province. The Nobel Committee can ease their consciences with the knowledge that nameless dissident will die behind bars thus rendering him ineligible for consideration.

So now Obama can look forward to having a dinner held in his honor in Oslo before Christmas. Perhaps he can invite that kindergarten class from New Jersey to sing in praise of him. It would be a fitting tribute given that his policies are geared to the mentality of a five-year old.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Obama Administration Cuts Funding to Monitor Human Rights in Iran

Given that the Obama Administration and its left-wing allies in Congress are giving out federal money like it was cake doesn't have but a morsel to spare when it comes to monitoring human rights in Iran.

Back in July, the State Department chose not to allocate any funding to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC). Since 2004, it had received $3 million in federal funding and was seeking $2.7 million over the next two years. The IHRDC has devoted itself to monitoring human rights abuses in Iran since the Islamic Revolution and seeks, amongst other things, to promote accountability, respect for human rights and the rule of law in Iran.

Suzanne Maloney of the Brookings Institute insists the decision has nothing to do with the Obama Administration's policy of engagement and appeasement of Iran:

I could see why it's being seen as a policy symbol, but we have to be careful not to create tempests and teapots where they don't exist. This funding is not intended to send policy signals. In all likelihood, this is a bureaucratic decision.

So the decision to cut federal funding to an organization that monitors human rights in Iran was made by a mid-level manager in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. It has nothing to do with the fact that engagement with Iran is the centerpiece of the Obama Administration's foreign policy. Yeah surrre. Just like President Obama's decision not to meet with the Dalai Lama had nothing to do with getting in the good graces of China. Just like health care reform won't add a dime to the federal deficit.

Heartbreak for Holliday

The St. Louis Cardinals were one out away from tying the NLDS at a game apiece.

With the Cardinals leading 2-1, Dodgers first baseman James Loney hit what appeared to be a routine line out but Cardinals left fielder either didn't pick up the ball or had a bad jump because it bounced off his chest and Loney ended up at second. Juan Pierre was inserted as a pinch runner.

Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin then walked Casey Blake and then gave up a game tying single to Ronnie Belliard. Franklin then issued another walk to Russell Martin. This brought up pinch hitter Mark Loretta. During his career, Loretta was hitless in fifteen at bats against Franklin. Not this time. Loretta hit a bloop single to score Blake to give the Dodgers a 3-2 win and a two games to none lead in the NLDS.

Ironically, Holliday had a hit a homerun in the 2nd inning to give the Cards a 1-0 lead. It doesn't take much to go from hero to goat in this game.

The Dodgers could sweep the Cardinals on Saturday night at Busch Stadium and advance to the NLCS.

Or perhaps Holliday could redeem himself in St. Louis.